Friday, April 12, 2013

Rough and red! Comparing the crimson Corydalis...

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'
There's nothing like untimely cold snaps to make you love the toughies: we dropped to nearly 5F two nights ago (April 9) when the forsythias and magnolias were coming into their glory, and the early fruit trees (almonds, apricots, peaches, some plums and cherries) were opening up. Needless to say, we've had some considerably damage: I've never seen peonies sustain frost damage on their leaves, but a few seem to have. The dusting of snow wasn't enough to protect them...but most alpines came through in flying colors, and the corydalis seem unfazed. So I thought this might be a time to revisit the red ones: rough and ready indeed! With the real 'George Baker' please stand up? can see him above in one of my larger clumps. He has a hint of paler pink on the lip...

Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'
 I obtained a dozen or so corms of 'Beth Evans' from Brent and Becky's a few years ago, and they're already clumping up in a separate part of the Rock Garden...not nearly as pale in the lip, with a much softer rosy pink flower overall. I'm glad they're a good twenty feet apart, although I'm sure the progeny between Beth and George could be terrific!

Corydalis solida 'Dieter Schacht'
I've had this one for many years--it came to me as 'Dieter Schacht'--though when I just googled the name, it should be an even softer pink than 'Beth Evans'--the problem with these corydalis is that once you get a few varieties together, expect them to produce a whole cline for you of color variation! When I had just 'George Baker' in the garden, I never got seedlings. But I have noticed in recent years that there are now slightly different forms showing up where I never planted red corydalis. And this year I noticed my first hybrid between a red solida and white Corydalis malkensis: oh oh....
Corydalis solida (seedling)
This seedling appeared near 'George Baker' a few years ago--and if anything I find it purer in color: 'Son of George'? Or shall I name it for someone I know? Or should I just enjoy it? The latter seems a wiser course...I've tried to avoid having any of the purple C. solida too near--hoping the reds would cavort and eventually produce a more or less uniform crimson or scarlet strain--and perhaps that is starting to happen...
Corydalis solida 'George Baker' on the back of the rock garden
 As beautiful as these are up close, it's fun to see them in a group--especially with winter starved eyes...these were taken last week--but they came through the snow and cold without damage, although slightly bent over at first. The shot above taken with a flash in early morning light...

Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans' in central rock garden, Quince
I end with this shot of evening backlight on 'Beth Evans' last week--doing just what I want her to. Once you start having them clump up, you can really light up the early spring rock garden--even after the isotherms drop to unseemly depths!
Janis Rukshan's catalog just got here last week--and whaddya know! There are a bunch more rosy to scarlet Corydalis on sale for a mere arm and a leg! wooooo hooooooooooo! Who needs arms? Who needs legs? Red corydalis are much more interesting and fun!


  1. Rather than lose limbs in the quest for colorful Corydalis, I recommend a much more economical approach. Go to spring plant sales (particularly to one's local rock gardening (NARGS) chapter, where Corydalis solida color forms are frequent and can be picked for a a few dollars. Buy a few more good clear color forms from local or domestic mail order nurseries, where the likes of George Baker can be had for $6 - $12; a good source for approximately 20 color forms is Odyssey Bulbs,

    Once a few good color forms reside in the garden, allow them to happily cavort and seed about, and before you know it you'll have a rainbow spectrum of color forms, enough to start naming a few hundred new selections of one's own ;-)

    Seriously though, as rock gardeners we are often too hung up on names and willing to pay and arm and a leg for color forms of ephemeral and promiscuus plants like Corydalis. It seems a rock gardening failure of sin, to have unnamed color forms of plants, not sure why this is. A number of years ago I bought a George Baker-esque hued Corydalis solida, added it to my garden, where it plays with other color forms. Only took a few years for a rainbow of Corydalis colors providing great pleasure and effect in the garden, with lots of hot reds to stoke the spring floral cacophony. I could sell you a few unique must-have color forms, for a mere arm and a leg.

    Mark McDonough :-)

    1. Mark, Since Panayoti's blog seems to be my only way to converse with you, please clarify things for me. Are you no longer accepting my e-mails? I just want clarification since you stopped responding without actually stating you wished to not receive any further correspondence.

      James McGee

  2. Your advice is characteristically sage, Mark! Are you sure you don't share my passion for Salvia? I have gotten a large proportion of my best treasures from rock garden swaps for a song. As for limbs--we have long ago bartered off our last ones in pursuit of Allium, Epimedium and all the other goodies!

    Happy Spring!

  3. Linda Cochran, a gardener in Washington, and I are grouping our Ruskans order together to save on shipping and phyto certification, etc. You interested in batching your order together with ours? You would still have domestic shipping to cover, but given how much it will be to ship a package back from Latvia, we figure it will save us money.

    1. I'm off to Sweden in about a week--will pass the suggestion to my colleagues: let's see if we can make it happen: anyone else who'd like to follow suit should contact Susan--just click on her Avatar.

    2. Actually, it would be best to contact Linda Cochran directly as this is her brainchild. Her email is in the comments of her most recent post:


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